By Matt Flumerfelt
The Valdosta Daily Times — VALDOSTA — Brandon Delaney thinks a lot about movies. He studies them, in fact. They are perhaps the most telling evidence of how Americans see themselves and the rest of the world — almost like America’s autobiography.
Filmmakers are like novelists. No matter how they try to disguise their intentions, they always show through. It’s no wonder Delaney finds them both fascinating and disturbing. They reveal the naked truth.
“I don’t want to go to a movie that’s just about some giant robots blowing stuff up. If I don’t leave the theater feeling like this movie has changed me in some way, I feel like I wasted my time. I don’t want to have to turn off my mind to watch a movie,” he said.
His experience with movies, good and bad, led to his becoming a filmmaker himself.
One of Delaney’s short films is about Michael Bay, the director of such films as “Armageddon” and “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.” In his mind, Bay represents everything that is wrong with the American motion picture industry today.
“Bay caters to a mindless audience. There’s no depth to what he does. It’s what I call soulless cinema, with a lot of in-your-face special effects and computer-generated imagery, but no real substance,” he said.
Delaney made a short animated film called “Kill Bay,” with Bay as one of the characters. The Michael Bay character, played by a Ken doll, gets blown up at the end of Delaney’s film by Optimus Prime, one of the Transformers, in a “special effects moment,” a fitting denouement. In the story, Prime was outraged because Bay was withholding his royalties from the “Transformers” movies.
“It was a release to get rid of Michael Bay because of all his horrible films. I’m sure he’s a great guy in real life, just not a good filmmaker,” Delaney said.
The soundtrack to “Kill Bay” was all classical music and included Beethoven’s “Fifth Symphony” and “Flight of the Bumblebee” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, he said.
Born in 1982, Delaney was homeschooled by his mother. She took him to see “Superman: The Movie” when he was 2 years old and it made an indelible impression. Movies he saw with his father, like the “Indiana Jones” movies and “Star Wars,” reinforced Delaney’s earlier impression that film is a marvelous medium. From his mother he picked up the habit of reading the book upon which a movie is based before seeing the film. Reading the book before seeing the movie gave him a greater appreciation for the relationship between good movies and good writing, he said.
Delaney said writing and filmmaking are inseparable. He quoted a line from Francis Ford Coppola: “If you want to make movies, you have to write.” And write he does.
“I’ve written stacks of screenplays. I can’t tell you how many screenplays I’ve written,” he said. “I’ve never had a formal writing class. I think being a proficient reader is the best way to become a writer. I write and crumple, write and crumple.”
Delaney said writing helps center him and bring his mind in focus, almost like a Zen exercise. He said there have been times when he sat at his desk writing for 11 or 15 hours and it seemed as if only an hour had passed. He calls it the wave because he said it’s like a wave of creativity washing over him, mostly late at night.
When he gets a new idea for a screenplay or a short film, he said it hits him in the head like a baseball. He sees filmmaking as “an evolutionary jump-off point” for a writer.
“You start by crafting words on paper, then film takes the writing to the next level,” he said.
Quentin Tarentino is a film director whose work Delaney admires.
“Few directors can rival him when it comes to writing dialogue. He has a natural gift,” he said.
Stanley Kubrick (”2001: A Space Odyssey,” “A Clockwork Orange,” “Full Metal Jacket”) is another director Delaney admires for his “stylization,” for the pacing of his films, for his ability to work with actors and his artful synching of musical scores with his films.
Other directors he singles out for honorable mention are George Lucas (”American Graffiti,” “Star Wars,” “Indiana Jones”); Gillermo del Toro (“Blade II,” “The Spirit of the Beehive,” “Hellboy”); Jim Cameron (“The Abyss,” “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” “Titanic”); and Bryan Singer (“The Usual Suspects,” “X-Men,” “Superman Returns,” “Valkyrie.”)
Favorite authors are Stephen King and Michael Crichton.
“You can’t understand modern cinema without understanding past cinema,” he said.
Delaney has enjoyed some successes. His experimental film, “The Diary of Kaitlyn Smith,” was previewed at the Dosta Theater on Horror Night. It was sandwiched between “Psycho” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” It’s available online in DVD format. Viewers can pull up a trailer of his short film “Day One” on YouTube by typing in shogunarmadafilms, he said.
Overall, he thinks Hollywood isn’t living up to its past.
“Hollywood doesn’t create stars anymore, not like it used to. Hollywood creates celebrities, images, people with a pretty face and no talent. Don’t get me wrong, I have my guilty pleasures. I pop in ‘Lethal Weapon’ I once in a while,” he said.
The best way to maintain one’s integrity as a filmmaker, he said, is to remain independent. Filmmaking has its frustrations. Delaney said he has far more stories about trying to get projects funded and produced and obstacles he’s run up against than tales of his successes.
“There have been times when I wanted to throw in the towel. I’d just get fed up and want to quit,” he said.
Then he said the fever kicks in. He’ll get an idea for a new film or screenplay, pick up his pen and paper and ride the wave.